Beth O'Connor's exhibit runs until Sep. 27.
by: Michelle Davidson
Gallery and Volunteer Coordinator, Ormond Memorial Art Museum and Gardens
Four environmental-themed paintings by Beth O’Connor are showcased in Ormond Memorial Art Museum’s popup window exhibit at 9 W. Granada Blvd., Aug. 31 to Sept. 27. Informed by the artist’s experiences with nature, the featured acrylic paintings use vibrant colors and mark-making to depict a layered story of the interconnectedness between people and the environment.
“I am inspired by nature’s intelligence and the fragile balance of our ecosystems. I am influenced by the energy of certain places and the transcendent beauty of small moments,” O'Connor said.
Her love of the natural world started as a young child in the woods, creeks, and mountains of Tennessee. She later went on to study painting and design at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. After moving to Volusia County in 2006, she began working professionally as a mural artist for a decorative painting company. O’Connor fell in love with transforming spaces through the use of color, design, and various paint techniques. She developed her own style that encompasses elements of surrealism, abstraction, and pattern making.
The Ormond Beach resident’s current canvas work focuses on endangered native Florida plants and wildlife. She says each painting reflects nature and threatened environments. “Octoportal,” one of the four paintings on display in OMAM’s pop-up window exhibit, is a colorful octopus headed towards a portal of the unknown. O’Connor said the inspiration for that painting came from her general fascination with octopi and how intelligent they are.
“There have been rumors that they can modify their DNA so I had an idea that perhaps they could teleport to another ocean on another planet once our oceans are uninhabitable," she said. "I read a lot of science fiction paperbacks as a teenager. ...Maybe it's a premise to a book, we wake up one morning only to find that all the octopi have disappeared from the oceans.”
In her other paintings, O’Connor explores several difference species of endangered birds in their environments. Her "Interconnected" painting is about a microcosm of the environment.
“Every little piece has a role,” she said. “The blue heron is dependent on the fish, who are dependent on the insects and so on. There is a cycle of energy that makes it a perfect system until humans interfere.”
The "Soft Calls" painting is a tribute to the world's rarest goose, the Hawaiian Nene goose, which was on the endangered species list for around 50 years. Her fourth painting on display, “Untitled,” features a green heron and an experiment of colors and motion, all happening around the bird, while it is laser focused on the hunt.
O’Connor often exhibits her work locally, and has two of her paintings ("Desert Memory" and "The Sound of Small Things") in OMAM’s “Holding Space” Pop-Up at the Performing Arts Center, located at 399 N. U.S 1. Presently, she is focused on creating murals, including her largest square foot mural to date. To view artwork by Beth O’Connor, please visit her website bethoconnorart.com. Find more information about OMAM’s pop-up window exhibit at ormondartmuseum.org.